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Title: Gordon Hirabayashi Interview IV
Narrator: Gordon Hirabayashi
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: February 17, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-hgordon-04-0001

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TI: Okay, so today is February 17th, 19-, or the year 2000, and we're interviewing Gordon Hirabayashi. This is the fourth interview that we're doing. Seated to my right is Alice Ito, and I'm Tom Ikeda. And at the last interview, the third interview, we had just finished the trial in Seattle where they found you guilty of the curfew. And, it was pretty, you know, cut and dry. And you went through that in the last interview. Why don't we pick up the story from there, and talk about, so after the trial in Seattle, what happened next? Where did you go?

GH: I went back to the federal tank in King County jail, and I remained there for about four months before suddenly a question was raised by the judge. "Say, your boy's been in the jail for a long time?" And the lawyer reminded the judge, that, "Yes, because you wouldn't permit any other kind of release." "Well, I have to follow the regulations."

TI: Right. And what, just to give you some background, because the release would be a bail. But then if you went on bail, you really couldn't go back into the streets of Seattle.

GH: Yeah.

TI: And so there was sort of this part where you...

GH: Yeah. I just said, "I still feel that if I, if I applied for bail, and it was approved, then I should be let out the front door like anybody else that posted bail." Says, "Yeah, but the streets are no longer free for you." Says, "Well that's one of the things I'm contesting. So until the Supreme Court endorses that, it ought to be left in abeyance. I'm under restriction, anyhow, being on bail." So...

TI: So you were in jail, in the jail for nine months, in a place where it's not prison, I mean, jail is a short term holding situation, so no outside privileges...

GH: Yeah.

TI: You're pretty much cooped up for those nine months.

GH: Yeah, the way ours was set up, our whole arrangement was half of the place was a day tank, where up to a maximum of forty people, who could be housed in the private cells, cell blocks, which had four person, bunks for four persons. And there were ten of those, so that five on each side, so that made forty bunks. And if they were full, we'd have, we'd have forty people milling around in the day tank. And that gets fairly full. That's about the capacity. That's where I was returned. And so, anyway, the discussion was between the, my lawyer and the judge. Saying, "Gee, we ought to do something." Says, "Well, if Your Honor would permit it, the Quakers have a program of various types. And in this circumstance, it might be opening an office, field office, for example in Spokane, where people from the Idaho camp, Minidoka, might apply to come out if there were housing and jobs available. And especially, this would be attractive to those who at some point would be able to return to Seattle. It would be closer and more in line with their future objectives than if they went to Chicago or someplace else." So, the judge says, "Well, if anything develops along that line, keep in touch with me." And so it was left that way. And then the Seattle office of the Quaker Service Committee, American Friends Service Committee, began exploring the possibility of a branch office that might be run by me, for example, where I could do some surveying and preparing the community for accepting housing and some opportunities for jobs. And so, that eventually opened up the Philadelphia office. Said they would be able to sponsor one person...

TI: And was Floyd Schmoe --

GH: ...on a trial basis.

TI: Yeah. And was Floyd Schmoe the one who was making all these arrangements primarily from Seattle?

GH: Yeah, he was the one staff person running the Seattle office. The rest of the program was run by various volunteers. Before I was incarcerated, I was one of those volunteers that helped when, at the time, the Japanese American community were preparing for being moved from their homes to the fairgrounds, which was the first incarceration point.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.